garden

Gardening Tips That Don't Have A Root To Stand On

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10 Garden Myths Debunked

Many of the garden tips and tricks floating around out there have been passed down through generations, spread by word of mouth or found on the Internet. Many gardeners tend to rely on these methods and some of them are accurate and incredibly helpful, however there are a few, very common tricks that are actually big misconceptions. These misconceptions act as more of a hindrance than a helpful garden hack. Let’s expose these common garden myths and make your gardening experience a whole lot easier for next season.

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Most people believe that adding a layer of gravel or stone at the bottom of a container will help improve drainage. I have actually heard this tip a number of times and I have tried it but with no avail. The gravel you place at the bottom of your planter will actually prevent free drainage and lead to moisture collecting around the roots. To avoid the inevitable root rot and disease, use a container with a drainage hole as well as a good potting mix. It has been said that planting “smelly” plants around the outside of your garden will keep deer and other pests away. I have been struggling with keeping deer out of my garden for some time now, and I can tell you first hand that smelly plants do not do the trick. The deer are smart and they quickly learn to simply walk around the smelly plants to get to feast on your garden. Click here for some alternative methods to keep the deer from invading your outdoor space.

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There seems to be a lot of misconceptions regarding the fertilization of plants as well as lawns. Some people believe that since a little fertilizer is good for the plants, then adding more will work better. This is incredibly wrong. Adding too much fertilizer to your plants will fry the roots as well as stunt the plants natural growth habit. Most fertilizers have a high content of nitrogen; too much will result in a lot of thick foliage but no blossoms or fruit. The excess fertilizer can also wash into the ground water, which has been causing problems for local bodies of water throughout the state. Too much fertilizer on your lawn will result in burning; your green grass will look like straw.

Many gardeners want to have a drought-tolerant garden. This is mainly due to the misconception that these drought-tolerant plants require no water. Drought-tolerant does not mean: “no water required” it simply means that the plant requires less watering than others. No matter what, all plants need regular water until the plant is well established. Certain plants do become drought-tolerant after they are established, but they still require occasional watering. Especially in the heat of summer, make sure you are watering your drought-tolerant plants moderately. When it comes to watering lawns, there are many opinions on the best time to complete this task. Most people tend to believe that watering at night will help save water and keep the grass healthy. However, if you are watering your lawn at night, the water will sit on the lawn throughout the evening and thus inviting mildew and fungal diseases. In truth, it is best to water your lawn in the morning, giving it more than enough time to dry before nightfall.

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Gardeners everywhere love using mulch in the garden, however most people believe that the mulch should be piled up against the shrubs to keep them healthy and protected from possible winter damage. This is also false, Mulch helps retain moisture and keeping the plant material constantly damp can lead to a number of diseases and fungus. When mulching in your garden, be sure to keep it a few inches from the trunk of your plant material. There is another misconception that sand will improve the quality of clay soil. Adding sand to clay soil will result in your soil having consistency comparable to mortar. The best way to improve clay soil is by introducing organic material, compost or finely chopped bark will do the trick. English ivy can be invasive but is not a parasitic plant, as some believe. It can grow up to 90 feet and kills other plants by blocking out the sunlight necessary for success.

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Most people tend to believe that sterilizing their garden tools with a bleach and water mixture works the best. Bleach is actually corrosive and will gradually ruin the quality of your tools. Some alternatives are rubbing alcohol, Listerine, Lysol or WD40 – these products are relatively safe to use in small quantities. Always make sure that you sharpen and clean your garden tools regularly - this will help to avoid spreading any fungus or disease to your other plant materials. Another tip most gardeners tend to follow is that young newly planted trees should always be staked. The truth is allowing the young tree to move freely allows it to grow stronger and sturdier. If you are planting your new tree in a fairly windy spot or if the tree tends to be top-heavy, it can be loosely staked with a flexible and soft material. Make sure that the stake isn’t in place for longer than six months. 

Use the tips we have listed in this article to help avoid these common garden myths. If you are unsure of a garden hack that a friend or relative mentioned to you, a little research won’t hurt. As landscape designers, we love our gardens as much as you do! We want to make sure that your gardening experience is as relaxing, enjoyable, successful and most importantly, SAFE. We all can’t wait for the next gardening season, but keep these tips in mind and if you have any proven garden hacks or other myths to be debunked, please post them in the comment section on our Facebook.

 

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Lawn & Garden: How To Prepare For Winter

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Landscape Checklist For Winter Preparation

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

For avid gardeners, it feels as though as soon as the growing season arrives, it’s gone. For the blooms this might be true, but for your landscape as a whole, there is still plenty of time to care for it before it enters its dormant period. Preparing your lawn and garden for the cold weather is incredibly important when it comes to keeping a happy and healthy landscape. There are important tasks to complete in the fall to make sure that all plant materials are ready for that strikingly cold first frost. Take a look at the steps below to help you prepare your garden for dormancy; at the bottom of this post we have our downloadable and printable fall checklist to make your garden prep a breeze.

First you want to assess your garden. Your garden can tell you a great deal upon conclusion of the growing season. To prepare for the next growing season, first you want to assess the results of your work from this season.  Assess the overall health of your plant materials, check for diseases and damage and address accordingly. Next we begin the physical preparation – its time to clean up the garden! You should weed, deadhead faded blooms and replace any ties with jute twine The natural fibers work better over the winter because they are more flexible – they will break down over time but by the time that happens you will be needing to retie your plants anyway.

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Next you can begin cleaning up your plant material. You can lightly prune dead and broken branches from your trees and shrubs but take care when pruning your flowering plants. Some plants flower on old growth (certain types of hydrangeas for example) so when you prune off the old growth, you’re actually pruning off next years buds. Spent flower heads can be pruned off but if you’re unsure of the pruning methods of a certain plant, it doesn’t hurt to look it up. Then you want to see if any of your plants have outgrown their space in your garden. If so, then they might need to be divided. If you have perennials in containers, you can remove them and trim the roots before planting them in the ground (root pruning will hem stimulate new feeder roots).

Make sure to remove any annuals or bulbs from your garden that aren’t zone hardy – be sure not to forget your containers and window boxes as well. You can save seeds from your annuals for next year. You can use cool weather annuals in your containers such as kale, pansies or garden mums. You can then add soil to the areas where plants were removed or areas where additional soil is needed. You can add compost and peat moss to replace any lost nutrients from the growing season. Add mulch to needed areas in your garden but make sure it isn’t sitting on low lying branches or pushed up the stalk of a plant.

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The fall is the perfect time to lay down seed to fill in those bare patches throughout the lawn - the cooler weather will allow them to have a better chance at germinating and developing a strong root system before the freezing temperatures arrive. Aeration will help to break up compact soils and aid in seed germination – the two can go hand in hand. You should also apply your winter fertilizer –a slow release all-natural fertilizer will do the trick. Your lawn can store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter season, allowing for a healthier and stronger lawn the following season.

If weeds were a concern this season (as they usually are) you can also apply a selective pre-emergent herbicide (like you did in the spring) – this will help deal with weeds that have been deposited during the summer. You can also use a spot treatment of post-emergent herbicide however most people would rather put down grass seed instead. If grass seed as been laid on your lawn do not use any weed control as this will stop the grass seed germination along with the weeds. Make sure you know the difference between selective and non-selective herbicides – a non-selective herbicide will kill everything including your lawn. Lastly, early fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs. For some plant material suggestions and tips, take a look at our Fall Is For Planting post. Plus, nurseries and garden centers have everything on sale to help clear their shelves for the season.

Following this checklist will help you ease your garden into dormancy and allow for happier, healthier plant materials next season, as well as a cleaner garden! As the days grow shorter and the weather grows colder, gardeners everywhere dream of the upcoming growing season – so take advantage of the time you have left this year to make the most of the 2017 growing season. Come springtime, your garden will be thanking you for your love and care during the previous season. So take this list, check it twice and count the days till spring arrives. Happy gardening!

 

Download and print our Fall Gardening Checklist

 

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Are You a Good Weed? Or a Bad Weed?

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Soil Conditions: Weeds as Indicators

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

When it comes down to it, any gardener will tell you that there is no such thing as a good weed, and I’m inclined to agree with them. However, the weeds that love to invade your property can actually tell you a lot about your garden. Analyzing the types of weeds that flourish throughout your property can clue you in on the soil conditions of your lawn and garden spaces. With this knowledge, you can make the proper soil amendments and provide a better growing environment for your garden plants as well as your turf.

Improving your soil conditions often can help deter or even eliminate weed growth and when it comes to weed control, taking preventative measures will provide the best results! It makes sense that soil conditions and weed growth go hand in hand. Although there are a vast number of types of weeds as well as a wide range of soil types, we are going to focus on the weeds that are most “popular” and the most common soil types. Let’s see which weeds will help you decipher what soil conditions you have in your lawn and garden.


For wet, moist and poorly drained soils:

- Moss Joe-pye weed

- Spotted spurge

- Knotweed

- Chickweed

- Crabgrass

- Ground ivy

- Violets Sedge 

For soil that is dry sandy:

- Sorrel

- Thistle

- Speedwell

- Garlic mustard

- Sandbur

- Yarrow

- Nettle

- Carpetweed

- Pigweed 

For soil that is hard and compacted:

- Bluegrass

- Chickweed

- Goosegrass

- Knotweed

- Mustard

- Morning glory

- Dandelion

- Nettle

- Plantain 

For heavy clay soils:

- Plantain

- Nettle

- Quack grass 

For Acidic soils:

- Oxeye daisy

- Plantain

- Knotweed

- Sorrel

- Moss 

For alkaline soils:

- Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot)

- Chickweed

- Spotted spurge

- Chicory 

For Poor/low fertility soils:

- Yarrow

- Oxeye daisy

- Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrot)

- Mullein

- Ragweed

- Fennel

- Thistle

- Plantain

- Mugwort

- Dandelion

- Crabgrass

- Clover

For fertile, well-drained, humus soils:

- Foxtail

- Chicory

- Horehound

- Dandelion

- Purslane

- Lambsquarters 

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It’s easy to identify common weeds using the link listed below or by using research books. Once you are able to identify the weeds that plague your property, you can eradicate these pests and improve your soil. Not only are you improving the growing environment for your turf and plant material, you are improving the over all look of your property. As much as I dislike saying it, there is no true way to win the battle against these weeds. However, these preventative measures and your consistent devotion to your outdoor space will help to lessen their ability to take up space on your property and lessen the competition they bring against your chosen plant material.

Rutgers Weed Gallery

 

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Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee, Smell Like A Buddleia

Buddleia davidii: The Butterfly Bush

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

            If butterfly gardens were like kingdoms, the butterfly bush would be the king. Buddleia davidii or, the butterfly bush, as it is more commonly known, is a must-have in any butterfly garden – when it comes to attracting butterflies, it can’t be bested. This beautiful deciduous shrub explodes with blossoms in the late summer and continues blooming into the fall (depending on the weather of course). The butterfly bush is incredibly easy to grow and needs little in the way of maintenance making it the obvious choice for all gardeners from novice to professional.

            Butterfly bushes can grow to be 6 to 12 feet in height with a spread from 4 to 15 feet. These tall shrubs are known for their beautiful long panicles of colorful blossoms. The flowers come in a wide variety of colors included two-tone varieties, however it seems to be the lavender/pink blooms that butterflies enjoy the best. The blossoms provide nectar for many species of adult butterflies, as the leaves are a food source for the larvae of some species. The butterfly bush will thrive when planted in full or part sun and in well-drained soil; planting it in a location that provides these conditions will lessen the amount of maintenance it will require. Keep in mind that the more sun it gets, the more blooms it will have!

            In terms of maintenance, Buddleia does not need a lot of fertilizer – too much fertilizer will promote for foliage growth and lessen flower production. It requires moderate watering and once established it can become drought tolerant – it does not like to have wet feet, too much water will cause root rot. Flowers can be cut so you can enjoy their fragrance in your home and spent blooms can be removed during the growing season to promote additional flowering. The butterfly bush is considered to be slightly invasive so to keep your Buddleia in check, be sure to remove the seed heads in October and prune annually in the spring. Some species can flower on old wood and should only be pruned to maintain its shape and remove dead branches.

            Most of the beautiful flowering plants I see at the nursery and would love to have in my yard are candy for deer – but not the butterfly bush, this beauty is deer resistant! The deer will only dine on Buddleia as an absolute last resort. Butterfly bushes are also not known to have frequent run-ins with diseases or insects either. If the plant is in an environment that doesn’t meet its growth needs, it will become stressed and open to spider mites. Sometimes, but not often, the butterfly bush can be attacked by Japanese beetles, weevils and caterpillars.

            The flowers of the butterfly bush give off a wonderfully soothing fragrance – plant it near a window or patio so you can enjoy its sent throughout the summer months. Aside from being a regular in every butterfly garden, Buddleia can be planted as a back border in a perennial garden, as a massing plant and some dwarf varieties can be used as a front border or an edging plant.  The butterfly bush is also surprisingly tolerant of urban pollution so they can successfully be used in city landscapes as well as along roadsides. Not only are butterfly bushes incredibly attractive on their own, but covered in butterflies outside your window with their fragrance filling the air? That sounds like absolute bliss to me!

 

 

https://www.plantdelights.com/blogs/articles/butterfly-bush-buddleia-davidii-plant-buddleja

Look at those neat flowers! Can you Sedum (see-dum)?

Sedum spp and hybrids: Stonecrop

By: Lauren M. Liff

         When it comes to versatility and reliability, sedum is pretty high up there on the list. Sedum ranges in height, habit, garden use, bloom time and color making it a great addition to just about any garden. Some varieties are spreading groundcovers while other varieties are taller and more upright while still others are small enough to be planted in containers and cared for as houseplants. Whether you’re looking for a ground cover to add to your rock garden or a late summer bloomer in your perennial garden – there is a sedum variety to fill almost any position.

         Most of the low-lying flowering varieties will bloom in the spring, as the taller varieties tend to bloom in the late summer or early fall. The low growing varieties are have a spreading/creeping growth habit and the taller varieties can get up to 2 feet tall or more. The blossoms of flowering sedums are star-shaped and bloom in clusters. The flowers range in color: shades of white, red, orange, yellow, lavender and pink – with all the varieties and sedum hybrids, each one is unique. All sedum varieties have thick leaves that grow in clusters around their stems. Some varieties have hairy foliage where as others have leaves that are waxy, some varieties have colorful leaves while others are adorned with light green foliage.

         Even though the varieties of sedum are all different, they are all succulents. As succulents they store water in their foliage, just as a cactus so they prefer to be in well-drained soil and thrive in full sun. Newly planted sedums should be well watered but once they are established they are drought tolerant. Sedums are fairly low maintenance requiring a light layer of compost in the spring each year, division to keep them in check, pruning to keep them healthy and pinching if you prefer to keep them small.

         Sedum can tolerate part sun however this may cause your plant to become leggy and flop over. If this does happen, a cage can be used to keep them upright or pinching the new growth in the spring to promote additional branching – this will also help to keep your sedum on the shorter side. They can be easily divided – in older plants the center of the “clump” will start to die out. To do this, simply divide your sedum into wedge-shaped sections and be sure to replant it in a similar location as to not shock the plant. Sedum cuttings also root rather easily; simply take the cutting and plant it into the soil – with proper watering and an ample amount of sunlight, the cutting will take root in no time! There is no need to deadhead sedums as the spent flower heads are almost as attractive as the blooming flower head – you can cut the whole plant back to the ground after the first freeze (the tops can be composted if you like).

         Sedum attracts a wide variety of pollinators and they are very much adored by butterflies making them the perfect late blooming perennial for your butterfly garden. When used in a butterfly garden or perennial garden, the taller varieties of sedum can be planted amongst coneflowers, rudbeckia and Russian sage. This combination of summer bloomers will give you an extra burst of color later in the season. When using a creeping sedum variety in your rock garden or as a low-lying border, it can be paired with other low growing and/or spreading flowers such as alyssum. With all the different varieties and sedum hybrids, it’s quite easy to find the perfect spot for it in your garden. In your flowerbed, amongst the rocks, on your windowsill or in a planter – sedum is truly one of the most interesting and versatile plants around!

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Honey: The Confection With Life-Giving Qualities

How Honey Can Improve Your Health

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

When your child has a scraped knee, you wipe away their tears, clean the wound and apply Neosporin underneath the Band-Aid to sooth it and help with the healing process. Would you ever think to replace the Neosporin with all natural honey? Some people are aware of the benefits of honey but what most people don’t know is that honey does not only have healing properties, but it can also improve your overall health! There are a lot of sweeteners out there but honey is the only one that has life-giving qualities.

Native Americans figured out that honey had to be important if a bear was willing to continuously get stung by bees to retrieve it. Once they had retrieved the honey for themselves they realized that it not only had a great taste but that it was healing their bee stings, scrapes and cuts as well – they used it for colds, to sooth sore throats and to keep animal skin dry overnight. It was given to children to help them fall asleep and women used it as a facemask. Honey was used for just about everything, but its true potential had yet to be discovered.

No one likes having scabs and scars, but did you know that the antibiotic creams you apply to your scrapes end up killing some of the tissue surrounding your cut leaving you with scars?  A clinical trial was done in Calabar, Nigeria where they used unprocessed honey to treat patients with wounds and external ulcers. During this study they found that, in 59 of the cases, honey was more effective than your average antibiotic creams and ointments – they even noticed that infected wounds treated with honey (as a topical application) became sterile within a week where as the regularly used applications applied to sterile wounds simply kept the wounds sterile until they were able to begin healing.  It was also discovered that honey removed dead tissue from persistent wounds – this allows some patients to avoid skin grafts and amputations.

Aside from helping clear up infections and healing wounds without scars – honey also reduces inflammation and soothes the pain of patients with deep wounds and even burns! Dr. Peter Molan (of the Honey Research Unit in New Zealand) said, “It is a very effective means of quickly rendering heavily infected wounds sterile, without the side effects of antibiotics, and it is even effective against antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.”

As if those life-giving qualities weren’t enough, there’s so much more that honey can do! Certain honeys have shown to assist in the treatment of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria (H-Pylori as it’s more commonly known). Some have found that just a tablespoon of honey twice a day can help sooth the pain of stomach ulcers. Due to the fact that honey enzymes energize the digestive process, you can avoid indigestion! A daily intake of honey can also aid in fighting off fatigue as well as helping your body’s recuperative abilities. Beginning a daily regiment of local honey intake a month before pollen season can help to minimize the symptoms of pollen allergies and hay fever related symptoms – say goodbye to sniffling runny noses! Honey can also be used as a moisturizer to help improve your complexion and ease away those annoying wrinkles. Simply use it as a facemask: splash your face with warm water then apply a thin layer of honey to form the mask and when you’re done just wash it off with some cold water.

It’s remarkable that something that tastes so good has so many incredibly healing properties and can actually improve your overall health. Honey is full of beneficial nutrients such as: potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and so many more! Honey simply makes everything easier; putting honey under a Band-Aid, for example, softens the skin and dampens the pain of the dreaded Band-Aid removal. Honey can heal your ailments both inside and out; there isn’t a single other sweetener around that can be placed in your kitchen as well as your first aid kit!

 

http://www.motherearthnews.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-honey-zmaz99fmzraw

Improving Your Garden From The Ground Up

Soil Amendments: How to Improve Your Soil

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

            Now that you’ve done your at-home soil pH and texture tests, let’s talk about how we can improve your current soil conditions. The healthier your soil is, the happier your garden plants will be – the amendments you make to your soil of course will depend on what type of soil you have. Using the results from your soil tests we can figure out how to adjust the pH level and how you can improve issues like drainage or lack of organic material.

            As we discussed in the soil test post, there are 4 main types of soil: loam, clay, sand and silt. IF you have loamy soil then there isn’t much you need to do in terms of amending it – just simply keep doing what you’re doing, but regular applications of compost or other organic materials will help your soil to maintain this texture. If you have mostly clay soil, your available nutrients are plentiful however you struggle with drainage – leaving your plants sitting in water. If you have mostly sandy soil, the presence of available nutrients is most likely pretty low and you struggle with water retention as it drains far to quickly. If you have silty soil, it tends to get slimy when it’s wet and drainage is a concern but the presence of available nutrients is high.

            Looking at your soil textural triangle, or the jar from your DIY soil test, you can tell which particle is most predominant. Improving your soil does take time and can be difficult but it is possible by taking the proper corrective measures and with the use of the right amendments.

For sandy soils:

1. To help with water retention you can use well rotted manure or compost (grass clippings, humus and leaf mold as well) – these will increase your soils ability to retain water, they also will work the fastest.

2. You also have to keep an eye on salt levels – if you have a seaside garden then chances are your soil already has a pretty high sale content – in this case make sure you are only using plant based amendments such as plant based compost or sphagnum peat (they have the lowest salt levels).

3. The nutrient content in sandy soils tends to be low, you can test your soil to see what nutrients are lacking and use fertilizer to address those concerns accordingly.

For silty soils:

1.  With silty soils your concerned with drainage and the fact that the roots are not receiving the optimal amount of oxygen. You can use composted manure or vegetable matter or ground/aged pine bark to improve the aeration and drainage.

2. Apply 2 to 4 inches of the organic material and work it into the soil about 8 to 12 inches down (into the root zone) for best results.

 For clay soils:

1. Use compost or other materials that will compost quickly (such as well-rotted manure, leaf mold and green plants) Apply 3 to 4 inches of the organic material on the soil and gently work it into the soil, go down about 4 to 6 inches.

2. Pay attention when watering your plants, if your soil is mostly clay the water will sit on the soil and some plants can’t tolerate wet feet.

3. Builder’s sand and gypsum will also help improve the drainage and break up some of the compaction – make sure you use course sand rather than fine sand because that will only make things worse.

4. Core aeration will also assist in breaking up the compaction by pulling out tiny plugs of dirt that will sit on the ground and disintegrate naturally.

            After completing the DIY soil pH test, you now have a rough idea of what the pH level of your garden soil is. There are two options when it comes to addressing soil pH levels: you can either use plant material that thrive in acidic or alkaline soils (depending on your results) or you can use amendments to lower or raise the pH level. Most plants do well in soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.5. Adding organic material to your soil is helpful in adjusting the pH level as well because it acts as a buffer – protecting your soil from becoming either too acidic or too alkaline. But there are other amendments you can use to further adjust the pH level of your soil.

Lowering the pH level:

1. If your soil is too alkaline, the phosphorus in your soil will be less available to your plant materials resulting in less fruiting and flowering.

2. Using organic matters to address this concern is going to be your best bet – composted manure and vermicompost will release the phosphorus that is tied up in your alkaline soil- the use of pine needles as mulch will also naturally increase the acidity in the soil.

3. Sulfur can be used to lower the pH level in your soil and make it more acidic. This is the product used for turning hydrangeas that beautiful bright pink color.

4. Sulfur should be applied using the same method as lime – read the label and follow the directions. If you are using sulfur to increase the acidity in your soil, I have found that working it into the soil is the application method that shows the best results.

Raising the pH level:

1. Lime is typically used to raise the pH level of garden soil to make it more alkaline – make sure to read the label and follow the directions. Adding too much lime to your soil can be incredibly difficult to correct; it’s best to start on the lighter side.

2. You can use powdered or pelletized lime for this application; mix it in to the top layer of the soil or sprinkle it on top and water it in.  In my experience pelletized lime is easier to work with and watering it into your soil, allowing it to work gradually, seems to have the best results.

3. Before doing a lime application you want to check the magnesium content in your soil as lime will increase those levels. Too much magnesium in the soil will restrict the nitrogen availability for your garden plants.

            Amending your soil texture and pH level will greatly improve the health and happiness of your garden plants. The texture and pH level of your soil will effect the availability of the soil nutrients that plants need to grow and flourish – freeing up or adding to these nutrients will help your plants to grow to their fullest potential. Soil is obviously a key element when it comes to the health of your garden – so just as you tend to your plants, tend to your soil as well. Help your garden be all that it can be!

 

Amending Clay Soils

Amending Sand Soils

Amending Silt Soils

Amending pH Levels

Kopper King: The Hibiscus With Larger Than Life Flowers

Hibiscus x moscheutos 'Kopper King': The Kopper King Hibiscus

By: Lauren M. Liff for Dabah Landscape Designs

 

            In New Jersey, the tropical hibiscus is one of the more sought after annuals seen quite frequently in entryway urns, patio planters and especially surrounding pools – but did you know that there are hibiscus plants that are actually hardy for our area? The Kopper King hibiscus is stopping people in their tracks wherever they are seen and for good reason! Becoming more popular in the New Jersey landscape, this perennial beauty is absolutely breathtaking with its massive blossoms, striking colors and stunning foliage. As opposed to the tropical hibiscus, this perennial is easier to grow and maintain and will be your landscape show stopper year after year.

            With a sturdy, compact and slightly rounded habit, this woody-based perennial grows to be about 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 4 feet wide. The size of the flowers is comparable to that of a dinner plate measuring from 10 to 12 inches in diameter. The remarkable size of the blooms makes them one of the largest flowers produced by any perennial in this area. The flowers resemble that of its cousin the hollyhock; they are light pink with showy red veins leading to a bright red center. These massive blooms sit atop foliage that has a striking deep purple-red color, giving the plant its name ‘Kopper King’. One of the wonderful characteristics of this perennial is its extended bloom period, which goes from mid summer to early fall and sometimes even to the first frost.

            The kopper king will thrive in full sun but can tolerate some light shade. To produce sturdier stems and the best flowers, make sure to plant it in medium to wet soil with good air circulation – this will also help the plant to be stronger and better at resisting diseases. This perennial is susceptible to wind burn so be sure to plant it in a protected area to minimize its risk. Once established, the kopper king does not like to dry out, deep and consistent watering will help to ensure a happy healthy plant! When the flowering season is completed in late autumn, you can prune the stems back 3 to 4 inches to allow for new growth in the spring – this perennial will also benefit from organically rich soils and regular fertilizations during the growing period.

            The kopper king has many uses in the landscape; it can be used as a border, a specimen plant or, for a greater impact, you could use it as a massing plant. Since this plant prefers moist soils, it does very well along streams or ponds and in low or wet areas on your property. This unique plant is the perfect combination of a tropical vibe and a sophisticated appearance. With its beautiful foliage and massive blossoms, the kopper king is a no-brainer when searching for a landscape plant that is a definite head-turner while still being beautifully elegant at the same time.